Toonami made a preview for their Adult Swim animation block that features snippets from Shia LeBeouf’s “motivational speech” edited around clips from Toonami shows like DragonBallZ and Attack on Titan. It’s pretty funny itself, but it didn’t convince me to check out Toonami. It did however convince me that Shia LeBeouf might be a genius.
When the Shia LeBeouf motivational tape came out initially, I wrote it off as “more lunatic shit.” This time around though, via the Toonami footage, I gave some consideration to what I was watching, and it dawned on me: Shia is going for a “slingshot-around-the-moon” gambit. Remember in Apollo 13, when the spaceship malfunctioned and they were all doomed? At that point you were like, “Movie over, this is gonna be another hour spent watching these three astronauts die in space.” And then someone in the movie, prolly Tom Hanks, was like, “Hey why don’t we use the moon’s gravity to slingshot us back to Earth?” It was so crazy, it shouldn’t have worked … but it did.
Well imagine that the moon is full insanity — and Shia is going to use it to swing him back to sanity.
Here’s how it works: Shia became a movie star as a kid. Steven Spielberg quickly chose him as his next prodigy — the biggest director in Hollywood just minted Shia a god, right? So he gets arrogant. He spends his teen years making comments that are Jaden Smith-level insane. He ruins Indiana Jones. He gets arrested. As an adult he becomes more unlikeable. He shit-talks Steven Spielberg, he plagiarizes a Daniel Clowes comic for a short film. After that he “retires from fame.”
It’s all like some bizarre Lindsay Lohan flameout. Imagine more arrests, some bad low budget movies, eventually he’s playing a corpse on a CSI-knockoff and then he’s dead of a suicide by 35. And we all kind of shake our heads and wonder what went wrong. Another child star that couldn’t “handle the pressure.”
Sure, he tried to come back to fame the classic way. He apologized. More or less:
For some stars, that’s all we require of them. But we, the Greek chorus public, didn’t want Shia back. We want to watch him keep flaming out. We want to see him suffer for daring to be a kid who grew up in the public eye and seemingly had an enviable life thrust upon him, one for which he was ungrateful. Shia was a spoiled brat — our favorite person to punish.
The Shia LeBeouf story might just have a fantastic third act though — and it might not be plagiarized this time (well, only slightly from Joaquin Phoenix, but that’s okay). See, I think Shia is going to scare us into taking him back.
Shia shows up in weird art movies. He shows up in weird music videos. YouTuber Rob Cantor wrote a song inspired by his weirdness and Shia showed up to be in the “live version of it.
He makes a motivational speech that is full-on unrequested:
Now he’s appearing in freestyle rap videos? This guy isn’t just a spoiled brat, he’s full on crazy, right? Like genuinely, he has a screw loose. Maybe there are some drugs involved — recreational narcotics?
If this trend continues, it won’t be long before he’s filmed eating garbage and mumbling to himself in Venice Beach. At some point, if this continues, you’re going to feel sorry for him. Your natural maternal/paternal instincts will kick in and you will see not a child star, but a damaged human being imploded by the media. And that’s what Shia LeBeouf wants.
He wants you to think he’s insane. He wants you to be nervous about what he might do next. Because crazy plays in Hollywood. Hollywood is full of eccentric oddballs … it wasn’t that long ago that Sean Penn tied Madonna to a chair and beat the hell out of her. People forgave him though and now he has Oscars. The same goes for Robert Downey Jr. and his addiction. But Sean and RDJ are different, you protest. They did that stuff pre-social media. Nowadays, “we don’t forgive, we don’t forget” and all that. Well Shia is trying to buck the trend.
I was once like you. I didn’t like Shia Lebeouf. I thought he ruined the latest Indiana Jones movie. I even wished for bad things to happen to him … maybe a dick parasite or something horrible. But no longer. No, now I feel a touch of admiration because I think he’s smart enough to play crazy. It isn’t full-on respect, mind you. I still think he is obnoxious, and trying too hard to be weird. But I no longer feel animus towards him — the wheels are turning.
I think we need another good year of solid — occasional — weird behavior. If we hear too much from him, he becomes a new brand of obnoxious. We just need a snippet here and there to make us shake our heads and hope we don’t end up in his eventual sniper scope. It’s a bit of a tightrope walk for him. But considering he was in “no man’s land” for a while, even a tightrope walk back to mainstream celebrity is likely welcome. I think he realized he had a pretty good thing going once.
I don’t think this article will screw it all up for him, but it won’t make things easier. Just thinking he might be trying to manipulate us brings a whole new level of annoyance to him. But if he is smart enough to play the game, and I think he is, it also brings just the slightest hint of a bemused smile. And that might just be the start back he needs.